A wave of joy is sweeping through Israel at this time, with great degree of justification. The Goldstone Report’s assertion that Israel carried out war crimes was difficult and bothersome, and the judge’s expression of regret in his Washington Post article is certainly a cause for celebration.
However, I propose that we keep the celebrations in check. While Goldstone’s article indeed softens the image of the IDF and its officers, and while the United Nations praised the IDF for probing itself, the State of Israel’s international problems do not start with the Goldstone Report and do not end with the Goldstone article. The road to mitigating the level of hostility closing in on Israel on all directions is still long.
The Goldstone affair, including the latest developments, is reminiscent of the great dispute between Israel and the UN in 1975, when the world body characterized Zionism as a racist movement. At the time, a lengthy national effort that lasted 16 years was needed in order to reverse the decision; in 1991, the UN retracted its grave assertion.
Yet despite this, as we all know, there has been no improvement in Israel’s global status in the past 20 years. Despite the kosher stamp received by Zionism in 1991, the situation became more complex. These days, Israel is highly isolated in the Middle East, where it is surrounded by a sea of hatred and hostility; the state of affairs in the rest of the world is not great either.
In the coming September, a proposal to recognize a Palestinian state in line with the 1967 borders will apparently be presented at the UN. Such proposal will be passed by an overwhelming majority, despite Israel’s huge effort to prevent it. Richard Goldstone’s article won’t help us this time.
Israel’s record includes blatant, ongoing violations of international law since 1967, especially in respect to the transfer of population to occupation land in Judea and Samaria. On this matter, there is no argument among the international community. We also cannot expect any article by a leading international jurist who will speak out in our defense.
Should Israel fail to secure an agreement with the Palestinians by September 2011, these violations will be haunting us as early as this year.
Hence, leveraging Richard Goldstone’s latest article isn’t enough. Israel must take the bull by the horns in the coming months in order to prevent a new, possibly unprecedented deterioration in our ties with the UN and the entire global theater.
Alon Liel served as Foreign Ministry Director General in the years 2000-2001